Per Gessle and Magnus Börjeson discuss ”Station to Station” on Bowiepodden

A Swedish David Bowie podcast, Bowiepodden invited Per Gessle and Magnus Börjeson to discuss David Bowie’s Station to Station album. The conversation was recorded at T&A in December 2022 and the guys talked about the album track by track. Listen to it HERE!

After the podcast host, Sebastian Borg welcomes Per and Magnus, he turns to Per and asks him about when Station to Station came into his life. Mr. G says it happened as soon as it came out at the beginning of 1976. He has always listened to David Bowie a lot and followed him. He attended the Station to Station tour at Scandinavium. He remembers they went there with a group and wore platform shoes, because they thought it was appropriate. Then they were a little disappointed when David Bowie entered the stage looking like Frank Sinatra. Haha. There was also Luis Buñuel’s short film, Un Chien Andalou shown, but it was a fantastic concert, Per thinks. Sebastian can imagine it was magical. Mr. G agrees that Bowie was magical. Sebastian thinks Per was the right age to be a Bowie fan. PG was 17 at the time. On the other hand, Per says these albums from 1976 still sound depressive in a way. Destroyer by Kiss is probably the worst. Hejira by Joni Mitchell was quite good, although it was complicated. You can’t miss Hotel California by the Eagles, but it didn’t mean much.

Per says when he was 11 or 12, he bought New Musical Express and Melody Maker every week and sometimes he bought Goal which was about English football. Magnus adds Per probably bought Buster (sport comic magazine) too. Per says indeed, he forgot about that one. Mr. G remembers that there were a lot of pictures of Bowie all the time. Bowie usually travelled by train, he was afraid of flying. Also, you heard that he stocked his urine in the fridge. It was quite a tough time. ”Or a good PR campaign”, Magnus adds. He thinks you have to take it with a pinch of salt, like everything. Sebastian thinks the whole myth-making around how decadently Bowie lived had an impact on him when he discovered the album long afterwards. He feels like it can’t be removed from the music and sometimes he would just like to listen to it without knowing any background to it. Magnus thinks the album is a bit detached. Per agrees and he adds it has very complex texts and there were no texts printed on the sleeve and there was no internet back then. So you didn’t understand it all, all this weird stuff he referred to, especially in the title track. You don’t exactly understand it even when you read it. Magnus says he has read through it a hundred times, but he has got only half of the answers still. Sebastian says you need to have Wikipedia available when you want to keep up.

Per says there is a book called Bowie Books. He collected books and it’s a book about 100 books that were most influential in his life and there is a lot of stuff he refers to in his texts. Sebastian says Bowie was a bookworm, he read a lot. Sebastian thinks it might not be that interesting to dig into why Bowie did things. He thinks it makes perfect sense that Bowie buried these and also his fascination with Hitler. Sebastian feels a bit that it is a storm in a glass of water, because it’s clear that at some point you are interested in those powers. Magnus says Sid Vicious had Nazi ties back in the days. It was the easiest way in England to provoke at that time. There is a PR element in all this, you have to remember that. After the war, it was so present. It was there all the time. Per says that after Woodstock and the Summer of Love, it feels like the ’70s itself was a real mess if you look at Pasolini, books, music, fashion and everything. Sebastian says he read someone who wrote that Bowie was like a roll of film exposed to too much light, because he was good at taking in all the impressions at the same time.

He was so extremely receptive. There were talks about drug abuse and using drugs, his main thing was cocaine. If he had gone hard for heroin, then he might not have survived. Sebastian feels that Bowie didn’t take drugs for partying and hogwash, but because of being extremely productive. So he had it more as a fuel to endure. He wanted to make music, he wanted to read, he wanted to write, he always had a thousand ideas going on. He was also quite isolated. He didn’t meet many people at the time and mostly hung out with himself and his musicians. There is a story about him putting up little piles of cocaine in the studio in different places, so that he doesn’t have to stretch so far if he was sitting by the piano for example. Magnus inserts it was the same with Fleetwood Mac. That was a Los Angeles thing.

Sebastian adds that Bowie also wanted to keep away from rock at this time. He had already done Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs. Sebastian has a quote where Bowie says himself: „I was absolutely infuriated that I was still in rock ‘n’ roll. And not only in it, but had been sucked right into the centre of it. I had to move out. I never intended to be so involved in rock and roll… and there I was in Los Angeles, right in the middle of it.” Sebastian thinks you can feel very clearly that this is a transition album and it’s not so rocky. It has really come a long way from the Ziggy Stardust sound. Per says if this record had come out today, he wouldn’t have listened to it at all. You gave records so much more time in the old days. Magnus adds that this record needs much time. He listened to it so much on a cassette in a car he had one summer. It always went on and after a while he thought, wait, this is damn good. But in the beginning, listening to this long, long, long intro, was not the best thing in the traffic. Per says it’s better to listen to it in your bed with your headphones on. Mr. G thinks it’s not a fantastic album. He thinks there are elements in Stay, for example, or TVC 15 that are damn good, but the other 5 minutes they could have edited a bit more, to make it more effective. Station to Station, the song itself is extremely protracted. Sebastian says that’s a typical cocaine impact. PG says he never liked Word in a Wing at all. Wild Is the Wind was his favourite, because that was a real song.

Sebastian thinks that a large part of the album’s sound and Bowie’s songwriting was also characterized by the fact that he was in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Actually, he wanted to make the music for it, he wrote a lot of music. Magnus says Bowie got super pissed off when they didn’t use it in the end. It was John Phillips from The Mamas & the Papas who got to do the soundtrack instead. Sebastian says he hasn’t seen that movie earlier, but he gave it a chance now before this conversation. An alien, Newton comes down to civilization, trying to find water is the storyline, but it’s a bit loose. And that’s how the sound is on Station to Station too. The cover of the album is a still from the movie.

Magnus says that Bowie got the world’s best partner on this record, producer Harry Maslin, who is so extremely underrated and not talked about. Per says Harry produced 2 albums of Bowie, Young Americans and Station to Station. He also produced Air Supply. Sebastian says Young Americans is also much Tony Visconti, but for example, Fame was produced by Harry and David, without Tony.

Per says it’s true that the sound of Young Americans is very different to Station to Station. There is a distance, STS is a little more metallic, a little cold. Magnus says it’s hard to get into it. PG says when the lead single, Golden Years was released, it was very surprising. He gave it like 30 chances and then finally put it away. It’s not an obvious single right away. For Magnus it was in the late ’80s when he discovered it and started listening to it. It was after Ashes to Ashes, so it was another Bowie.

As a fun fact, Sebastian mentions that Bowie was together with a designer named Ola Hudson who had a son who later became famous as Slash. So Bowie nursed little Slash. His real name is Saul Hudson.

The guys here get down to this epic album, which opens with Bowie’s longest song in his career, Station to Station. When the intro starts, Per says here comes the train. Magnus asks if this was the sound that was during the movie screening. Per says no, the whole concert started with this train and then it was Earl Slick standing in the front of stage doing the intro. Bowie was standing at another place and started singing [here Per demonstrates how deep his voice was] „the return…” It was fantastic.

Still listening to the intro, Per says you would like them to sprout up the song a little bit, get a little tough. Magnus says maybe that was cocaine. PG says, but then it should be fast. There is a little turn though, but you feel like it’s at 4 BPM. It gets a little faster, Per says. Magnus adds you get the reward when Bowie starts singing. Sebastian says the singing starts only 3 minutes 16 seconds into the song, so it’s a massive intro. From the first lines you get a little goosebumps, but musically, it could have been more cheeky. At one point Per asks Magnus what instrument is the one that comes. Magnus thinks it’s melodica, but he is not sure. Per says it sounds like being played with the mouth, so it can be. Sebastian says that when he heard this song for the first time it was at KB in Malmö. A Bowie tribute band was playing with Fredrik Karlsson. The opening lines were inspired by Aleister Crowley, an occultist about whom there is a story that he lured a young couple into his apartment and terrorised them until they died.

Sebastian thinks that there is something strange about the „return” of the Thin White Duke, because it was the first time we heard about him. Who is this guy that he was apparently talking about? Magnus says these characters always come back and descend and come back to take over. It was the same with Ziggy. Per says Bowie is such a storyteller in his lyrics. There aren’t many love lyrics in David Bowie’s catalogue. Per can’t even remember if there is any. Wild is the Wind has beautiful love lyrics, but it’s not Bowie’s song. All the lyrics are about… it’s impossible to say what they are about. Sebastian feels like this is Bowie’s way of tying together a lot of song ideas. It’s a little patchwork that applies to songs like this that have many parts in them. Like a symphony. Magnus says it kind of has a small connection to symphonic rock. It’s not symphonic rock at all, but the form is close. It was big back then. Such super pop people like McCartney did a lot of this sort of thing and there were other bands that made a whole career out of doing it.

Sebastian thinks the intro is magical. Maybe a bit too long, but the second half of the song brings him to Young Americans land. The transition isn’t that pretty. Per and Magnus think differently. They think it’s damn good. Sebastian thinks it’s a bit Jethro Tullish. Per thinks this part is in the song’s DNA. Sebastian thought about comparing it a bit to the title song on Blackstar, because it was also almost 10 minutes long. It’s funny that Blackstar was actually over 10 minutes, but they had to cut it down to 9 min 57 sec, because iTunes didn’t sell singles that were over 10 minutes.

Sebastian thinks Blackstar works better. The parts there fit together more neatly. Regarding why these songs have to be so long, Carlos Alomar talked about it in an interview. It was because he found out on Station to Station that they pay you extra money if your song is longer than three minutes. So it was because of more money.

Sebastian thinks there is a lot to talk about in terms of Station to Station‘s lyrics. They don’t need to talk about every single line, because it’s almost too much, but there are some things that are very interesting. For example, Bowie sings „such is the stuff from where dreams are woven” from The Tempest by Shakespeare.

Above all, he was into Kabbalah and there is this mysticism. It’s dark, but it feels pretty harmless. Then he sings „here are we one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth”. Sebastian says it was hard for him to figure this out without internet. Per agrees that it’s difficult to understand that. He looked it up on the internet too, but he must have forgotten it. It is a reference to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, where Malkuth is the lowest branch and represents the physical world. Kether is on the top of the Tree of Life. It means crown. Life is a journey from one to the other.

Talking about the title, Station to Station for Sebastian it has a train reference, but it’s not really. He thinks Bowie is referring to the Stations of the Cross. It also fits better. The journey goes from station to station, he is on his way from the dark to the light. But it’s a bit misleading that they start with train sounds. So it can be both. Per has always thought that it’s Bowie’s life, he is on his way, but from A to B or from A to F and it’s really wonderful, simple and effective to illustrate it with a train. It could be a boat or any other vehicle, but it’s also like a mental journey. Magnus says Bowie always had a lot of themes going on at the same time, overlapping one another. It might be a dream game. It’s just that things go on and on and on. Per thinks that is the magic of pop and rock music in general, that you can interpret texts in so many ways. Sometimes you can think that it’s all about you. Of course it isn’t, but you interpret it that way and that’s the power of this. Magnus says texts should stand on their own. They can always rest in the music and you can just throw in a line to hold it together. If you have listened to a song a lot, you’ll eventually get into the lyrics too. Every now and then it starts to stick and then you try to draw your own logical conclusions.

Sebastian says that in the lyrics, Bowie was very figurative and has poetic descriptions that are now quite straight to the point when he sings „it’s not the side effects of cocaine, I’m thinking that it must be love”. Magnus says it was one of these lines that you were hooked at first, but that was it.

Sebastian says that Bowie’s texts are not really why he bought a ticket for. They are hard to understand. Per agrees. Magnus thinks these texts do work, but on a much more subconscious level. Sebastian doesn’t like this song as wholeheartedly as everyone else. He thinks some parts are better than others. He is curious if this is one of Per’s favourite Bowie songs. PG thinks it’s really good. It’s long, but he has listened to it a lot. As he said, he was 17 years old when it came out and that’s exactly when he really listened the most for the music.

Magnus says he was maybe 20 when he started listening to this record. Per thinks it’s very difficult to say which are Bowie’s best songs. It depends a little on what you are out for. He thinks Life on Mars? is fantastic, even though it is from a certain angle. Drive-In Saturday from Aladdin Sane he loves. It’s one of his strangest songs. Time Will Crawl is also a fantastic one.

Regarding Station to Station, Sebastian says he tried to get into it. He listened to it closely, listened to it a little less closely, but he can’t get over the fact that for him it’s a little too much of a collection of song ideas that he doesn’t think fit together. He can’t see what everyone else is seeing or can’t really hear what everyone else is really hearing. Per says it helped a lot for him that he listened to it when it came out. Back then you gave music so much more time to get into it and like it. If it had come out today, PG would have never listened to it. Magnus says that back then, you’d never heard a song like that before, but today you don’t have that patience with music. Per adds that it was also the case that everything that came out then was new. It felt new.

Mr. G remembers that when he heard stereo for the first time in the headphones, it was fantastic to experience it. Magnus says it was like a new dimension. Per explains we don’t live in such a time anymore. Today there is such a huge range of everything.

Magnus says it’s so funny that even if Bowie is supposed to be experimental, there is always this damn boogie. Both Per and Magnus demonstrate what they mean by boogie. It’s also there on Heroes. That’s what makes it so cool that you get 2 dimensions.

Golden Years is the next song the guys are talking about. These kind of songs are Sebastian’s type of pop songs. He really loves these pop singles and this, of course, was the lead single and it came out before the album was released.

Per thinks it’s quite lovely to hear a live band that plays funk and soul. It doesn’t exist anymore. Today everything is fixed. Sebastian thinks that this is like a groove and it has different perfect guitar parts that sync up so very well. It’s almost like a duel between two guitarists.

Magnus says it’s also very much the ’70s, where everything is a bit messy. Then there is Let’s Dance in the ’80s, but that record is super swingy in its own way and is organized in a completely different way.

Per says he hears a little Elvis echo on here. Magnus says Bowie wrote it with Elvis in mind. Per says he can’t hear Elvis doing it actually. Sebastian confirms that Bowie indeed thought that Elvis might be interested in doing that. Bowie also forwarded it to Presley’s management, but as far as Sebastian knows, he never got a yes or no from them. He doesn’t even think that Colonel Parker passed it on. Sebastian can hear it with Elvis and thinks it would have been cool if he sang it.

It resonates like the electronic music that Kraftwerk were doing, but not as swinging. Sebastian thinks that songs like this must be hard to learn. It feels natural when you hear it, but if you were to stand alone and try to keep up, you would lose track. Sebastian thinks a bit of Beyoncé, too, having such songs where everything is connected. Sebastian is just very grateful that he doesn’t have to learn the formula.

According to Sebastian, the inspiration for this one apparently came from a song called Happy Years by The Diamonds, but there is also a song called Funky Broadway by The Blazers. Sebastian rather thinks that Carlos Alomar was probably right when he said that it came from when Bowie wanted to do something in the style of On Broadway. He also sings a line from On Broadway on Aladdin Sane on the outro. Per says the song jumps out on the album, because it’s rather commercial. Magnus thinks it’s an obvious single. Per agrees.

Sebastian says that Bowie’s childhood friend, Geoff MacCormack has a big role here. Bowie had some problem with his voice during the recording, so Geoff had to sing some parts. It was his idea to add „run for the shadows” as backing vocals. You would think it’s Bowie singing, but it’s Geoff. Sebastian tried to separate their vocals. Per thinks that when Bowie sang live, his singing was perfectly clear, everything was fantastic. PG has never heard him sing out of tune. Sebastian says that it’s strange that Bowie didn’t play this song live from 1983. He wonders if it could have been something with the key, something that made it difficult to sing it. Mr. G says it’s very falsetto. Magnus says he knows they usually liked to keep first takes on the records. It was almost always the case. According to Sebastian, it is said that if you can sing clearly, you can also whistle clearly. He doesn’t know who is whistling here, but it’s just perfect.

Magnus says it’s so much fun to hear vocals from the time before all became so fixed. We are reminded how exciting it can be with singing. Per says he understands that if you sing out of tune or you make a mistake you can correct it now, but if you have the vocal capacity like Bowie, you wouldn’t want these voices to be autotuned.

Sebastian says drummer Dennis Davis plays wonderfully on the whole album, but here he is in his element. The band is in its full power on this song. It’s so incredibly good, it’s so far from swinging. Sebastian thinks this mixture is so perfect, the black band, the white music. Per and Magnus also find it awesome.

Sebastian says this song is not as long as some of the others, but 4 minutes is about right. Magnus says they got more money for this length too. Haha.

The guys start talking about what the song is about. Sebastian thinks there are lines that are either about Angie Bowie or about Bowie’s girlfriend, Ava Cherry. At the same time, as Bowie said himself, he wrote this with Elvis in mind, so who knows. Per doesn’t think it’s about anything special. It’s that you can interpret it in so many ways. He thinks it sounds pretty nice. The song came about very quickly, Sebastian says.

Now the guys are at the last song on side A, Word on a Wing. Sebastian loves that tentative piano that feels like testing the sound. He is also very fond of how Bowie starts singing. Per thinks it’s the world’s strangest arrangement. He never liked this song and always skipped it. He never liked the melody, the construction of the song. Sebastian likes it quite a lot, but he realized that he wouldn’t like it if it wasn’t written by Bowie. Then he would think it’s too buttery. He maybe also has a little difficulty, because there is a very Christian message in it. Sebastian chose to see it as a love song that might as well be a tribute to a woman, but the consensus seems to be that it’s Bowie who turned towards Christianity or religion in general. He himself had never really been an outspoken Christian like Dylan in a period. Here Bowie sings „Just because I believe, don’t mean I don’t think as well / Don’t have to question everything / In heaven or hell”.

Sebastian says that it’s said that you become more religious by getting older. Per says once again that he thinks people put in so many interpretations. Bowie was probably just looking for a good rhyming word with „well” and found „hell”. Haha.

Sebastian reads Bowie’s words: „I had never been so near an abyss of total abandonment. When they say that one felt like a shell, an empty shell, I can really understand that. I felt that any of life’s intrusions would crush that shell very easily. I felt totally, absolutely alone. And I probably was alone because I pretty much had abandoned God.” A couple of years later, in 1980 he says: „There was a point when I very nearly got suckered into that narrow sort of looking… finding the cross as the salvation of mankind.” Sebastian says that here Bowie admits a little that he had at least opened up the idea that there could be salvation in God, but quite quickly realized that it wasn’t for him. Although he was wearing a cross on his necklace throughout his career. He wasn’t an outspoken religious person, but an intellectual. Sebastian says he is not a convinced atheist, but he has a hard time when there are Christian messages like this in a text, but he chose to ignore it and like the song anyway. Magnus thinks that Bowie sings so terribly well and he can do these super theatrical things that still don’t make it too ridiculous. It gets a little ridiculous and good at the same time.

Per says that in the ’80s and ’90s Bowie’s music became so tough and so harsh that his voice disappeared. Earlier PG mentioned Time Will Crawl and he thinks Bowie sings amazingly on that one, but he also has a lot of resistance. The production is so powerful that he kind of has to push through it.

Sebastian thinks the drum accompaniment is strange, some double beats are a strange choice by Dennis. Then comes the part where Sebastian says this is the only song he has a little difficulty with and that’s when you go into this so-called chorus. There’s something about the falsetto that doesn’t work for him right here. Per and Magnus think it’s nice. Sebastian realizes that he and the guys think a little differently all the time. Haha.

Sebastian says if you want to hear a little Springsteen in a Bowie song, here it is. It’s Springsteen’s pianist, Roy Bittan playing here. Sebastian thinks the song as a composition feels a little Springsteenish. Magnus has never thought about it. Per says Bowie recorded Springsteen songs as well, e.g. It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City. Sebastian has never seen Bowie as being inspired by Springsteen, but he has seen Bowie as someone who looked up to Springsteen musically. Magnus thinks they were contemporaries, but they were completely different. Sebastian feels a little Springsteen vibe in this song, but he doesn’t know Springsteen too well. Per says maybe it’s only because Roy Bittan sits at the piano. Sebastian feels that at parts there is a little too much space for the piano. Per agrees, but says it let’s Bowie relax a bit. Sebastian played with the thought that this is what it would be like if pianist Mike Garson was on this record. Per says there wouldn’t be less space for the piano then. The guys are laughing. It became a bit more theatrical and Garson didn’t really fit.

Sebastian says there is this instrument at the end of the song, a Chamberlin. Per thinks it sounds a bit like a Mellotron. Magnus explains it’s almost the same thing. Mellotron was used a lot in Bowie’s songs.

The guys get down to side B and start talking about TVC 15. Sebastian says it was this song that Roy Bittan was invited to play on, it was only meant to be on this one, and then he stayed and played on all the songs except Wild Is the Wind. Bittan had just recorded Born to Run and Bowie mentioned he was looking for someone who could play like Professor Longhair. So David asked Roy if he knew Professor Longhair and he did, of course. Sebastian thinks the intro is very similar to Hey Now Baby by Professor Longhair. Per says there was Elton John and Leon Russell who played this New Orleans style, so to say, Magnus adds Dr. John.

Sebastian says even this „oh-oh-oh-oh” you can find in a song by The Yardbirds, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. So it also sounds like it had been borrowed, but if you were to look in the history of music, you would find quite many of such things and that’s totally fine. Magnus says Bowie was a filter for all this stuff that was in the air at that time. That happens today too, lifting the vibe from another song and stuff like that. It has always been so, just we didn’t know about it before.

Sebastian loves this chaotic soundscape. Per says you hear a little of that guitar chaos that came later with Robert Fripp. There are no keynotes anymore. Magnus says it’s like trying to get through a chaos. PG says it sounds a bit like how the test picture looks on TV.

Sebastian says the sound pattern creates the airiness that then enters into this wonderful transition part. Per says it’s empty, but it’s fun. Magnus thinks it’s damn good.

This song also became a single, Mr. G says. He thinks that if they had skipped Roy Bittan’s intro, it could have been a very effective single.

Sebastian says that the lyrics were inspired by a dream that Iggy Pop told Bowie. He had dreamed that his girlfriend was eaten by a TV. Apparently, TVC 15 is a TV model. Sebastian doesn’t know more than that. The text can actually be read as a narrative. After all, there is a story and it’s a bit twisted.

Sebastian says that according to Maslin, the mixing was a nightmare with the very many different parts. So he had to make sections by the help of an assistant and then cut it together. You don’t work like that today. They had a 24-track tape, which was also a lot at the time and all the tracks were full of different instruments, so it must have been tough to mix them. Bowie wasn’t involved in the mixing at all. He kind of let them take care of it.

Sebastian thinks it’s one of the highlights on the record. It’s one of Bowie’s classics, one might say.

The guys go into song number 5 called Stay, which was a single in the US. Per thinks it’s amazingly good. It’s enormously good according to Magnus too. Sebastian was sure that the guys would say this. He is a guitarist himself, so he should like the intro, but… he will try. He feels like it could be something that John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers could have come up with. It feels like a punk riff.

Per has always thought that this intro is promising so much, but then nothing comes out of it. Magnus also thought the same, that it was just building and building, then nothing. Sebastian says it could be half the length, because half of it is just guitars. Per thinks it wouldn’t have gone wrong with a nice melody. It could have been a big hit.

At a point, Sebastian says this is a reworking of John, I’m Only Dancing (Again). Bowie never released it on any record. Per says it sounds like the Young Americans sessions. It’s not that good, but it’s very similar to Stay. Sebastian says it’s the same chords and same arrangement. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) is also insanely long. It’s 7 minutes.

Sebastian has a clip here with Carlos Alomar where he tells a little about Stay. Stay is John, I’m Only Dancing. The music is the same. Bowie said: „Hey, Carlos, I have a great song. Could you have a new arrangement of that song for me?” And that was it, he got this all new song by changing the lyrics. Sebastian says the album consists of six songs of which one is a cover and this one is a reworking of another song. Sebastian says Bowie started working more and more with soundscapes, ambient pieces and that was of course because he wanted to, but also because he couldn’t write songs. Per says that you can hear that he is moving more and more away from melodies. These are not really songs, but grooves. Sebastian agrees, it feels like he was writing less and less compositions in the way he had done before as a songwriter. Magnus thinks it was a bit like Bowie had ideas, came to the studio and he had the world’s best band and then he wanted to see what they can make out of his ideas.

Per says Bowie is singing amazingly here. There is a fantastic groove to it. Sebastian says that from 3 minutes 50 seconds into the song there is nothing interesting to him anymore. Per can imagine it was very good live. He thinks this part is pretty good, it’s better than the melody. Magnus also thinks it’s fantastic. It sounds like they had much fun.

Here comes the last song on the record, a cover, Wild Is the Wind. Per thinks it’s magical. Sebastian thinks the intro sounds so soft and lovely. It’s also nice that the acoustic guitar comes in. He also thinks that it sounds like this could have been mixed by Tony Visconti. There is something about the drum that sounds differently. It sounds a bit like a Bond song. Per says when there is a really good song on the record, it really pops out. This is really magical music. Bowie sings just amazingly. PG has always thought it’s Bowie’s best vocal performance. Sebastian read it at several places that this is considered as his best and he himself thought so too. Bowie was extremely satisfied with this one.

Per says there is a little slip in there, which is like what you have in Golden Years too. He thinks it is so very attractive. Sebastian says Bowie even got a compliment from Frank Sinatra who came by the studio. He was recording in another part of the building and heard this version and was very appreciative. Magnus says it started with Nina Simone’s version of the song. Sebastian adds that originally, it’s a cover of a song sung by Johnny Mathis for a movie Wild Is the Wind. That version was nominated for an Oscar and peaked at number 22 on Billboard. It was a hit. But it’s Nina Simone’s cover that Bowie actually covers on the album. He was very fond of that version. Bowie and Simone were friends. They had met at some club in 1974 and talked a bit and then later that night Bowie called her at 3 am and wanted to talk a little. According to Nina, the first thing he said was: „The first thing I want you to know is that you’re not crazy. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re crazy, because where you’re coming from, there are very few of us out there.”

Nina Simone told in interviews that Bowie didn’t think he himself was a talented or a particularly good singer, which feels so damn strange, Sebastian says. What Bowie said was „I wasn’t a genius, but I planned, I wanted to be a rock-and-roll singer and I just got the right formula.”

Sebastian thinks that one can understand why Bowie got stuck with this song and this is one of the rare cases of Bowie choosing a cover which is absolutely perfect, because he sometimes had extremely strange and boring choices and here he really does a good version, not just a carbon copy.

Per says it would be interesting to know why he chose a cover. Maybe he felt he didn’t have enough material. This song is a rather odd choice on the album. He heard an interview with Nile Rodgers where he talked about Let’s Dance. He said there wasn’t much coming from Bowie what to make with the songs, but it kind of was like „can you do something about this?” That’s how Let’s Dance and Modern Love were produced. Bowie probably never saw himself as a songwriter like Elton John. It just strikes Per right now that it could be one of the reasons of doing the Pin Ups album to gain time. He didn’t have time. He planned to do an adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, but he was denied the rights, then he was busy with the ambitions to make Diamond Dogs. Sebastian thinks so too. The record company also wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so he could gain time.

Sebastian feels that Station to Station is an album of a rather searching and slightly confused Bowie who still manages to do something that is so comprehensive. Even if the record may not have hit Sebastian the way it would have if he was 16 or 17 when it came out, it’s impressive that Bowie somehow manages to get out of this state he was in. Of course, to a large extent it’s thanks to that now he had great musicians and had a machine that controlled things, but he didn’t care that he was in the studio working and toiling. He wasn’t out there rumbling around like Morrison or Zeppelin. But he realized that somewhere around here he had to find his way out of LA and go further. He was damn lucky that he made that step, because Sebastian thinks Bowie wouldn’t have survived otherwise.

Magnus thinks it’s really incredible that he made a record like this when he was in that state. Even he himself couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

Sebastian feels like this is Bowie’s journey, that he sort of makes his way from the darkest dark up through to lights. The ending is amazing, a positive, beautiful song. It’s a big difference from how the album starts. Magnus says Bowie is really like a Renaissance man.

Per says he met Bowie in 1983 on the Serious Moonlight Tour. PG got down to Lyon, France and had the honor of meeting David. Magnus asks if it was at that gig. PG says yes and it was fantastic. He was blonde of course and he had a pastel coloured suit on. He looked amazing. Per was 23, it was the year after Sommartider. So it was a „hej hej, good luck” before the concert. PG was impressed because Bowie had an environmental manager, a girl who built up those ugly dressing rooms including furniture and stuff.

With this, the conversation comes to an end. Sebastian says a big thank you to Magnus and Per for joining him and he also thanks MP to let him sit in his studio, Tits & Ass in Halmstad and lent them his equipment and the studio itself.

Picture is from Bowiepodden

PG Roxette covers Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”

Per Gessle – together with Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg, Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson, Christoffer Lundquist and Jonas Isacsson, under the banner “PG Roxette” – is among those 53 artists who have covered their favourite songs from The Black Album of Metallica, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. From the 12 tracks of the album Per didn’t hesitate when asked which one he wanted to interpret – he picked Nothing Else Matters.

The Metallica Blacklist is now released digitally and will be out on 7 LPs / 4 CDs as well on 1st October. All profits will be donated to charities of each contributing artist’s choice along with Metallica’s own foundation, All Within My Hands.

In June, when PG shared the news he said:

I’m thrilled to participate in the “Metallica Blacklist” project. Picking a song to record from their classic “Black Album” was pretty easy for me. “Nothing Else Matters” has always been a favourite of mine. Wow, it’s such a great track!

Under the banner ”PG Roxette” I joined forces with long-time Roxers Clarence Öfwerman + Jonas Isacsson + Christoffer Lundquist + Magnus Börjeson together with Helena Josefsson + Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band of the past.

My ambition was to treat the song with respect while transforming it to a style of my own. I’m very pleased and proud with the outcome.

All proceeds from the recording will go to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and to UNHCR, a charity I chose together with Marie Fredriksson’s family.

Upon the release he adds:

I remember hearing Nothing Else Matters all the time on the radio in the early 90’s when Marie and I travelled the world constantly. We always joked about that it actually could have been an amazing Roxette ballad, hahaha!

We both loved it very much. So what I’ve tried to create now is to make it sound like a classic Roxette song.

I’m extremely proud to be part of this Blacklist-project that connects artists and bands from all over the world for good causes. Thank you Metallica.

Watch a short video of the recordings HERE!

You will find PG Roxette’s interpretation of Nothing Else Matters on Disc 4 on streaming sites.

Listen here at the song’s direct links: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube!

Produced by Magnus Börjeson + Clarence Öfwerman + Christoffer Lundquist + Per Gessle
Recorded at Farozon, Malmö + Sweetspot Studios, Halmstad + Aerosol Grey Machine, Vallarum, Sweden in January 2021
Engineers: Magnus Börjeson (Farozon) + Staffan Karlsson (Sweetspot) + Christoffer Lundquist (Aerosol Grey Machine)
Mixed by Ronny Lahti at The Lahti Headquarters, Stockholm, Sweden
Played by:
Magnus Börjeson: Programming + keyboards
Clarence Öfwerman: Programming + keyboards
Christoffer Lundquist: Ondes Martenot + keyboards + electric guitar
Jonas Isacsson: Lead electric guitar
Helena Josefsson: Vocals
Dea Norberg: Vocals
Per Gessle: Vocals

Metallica photo by Patrícia Peres, WorldWired Tour 2018, Budapest. PG still is from the official trailer.

What you’ll find on Spotify as the artist details of PG Roxette:

Per Gessle is one of Scandinavia’s most successful artists and songwriters of all time. With a gift for catchy hooks, both musically and lyrically, he has composed chart-topping pop hits for more than four decades. Starting his career in 1978 as the songwriter and lead vocalist in Swedish early 80´s pop phenomenon Gyllene Tider, he and singer Marie Fredriksson teamed up in Roxette with the humble aim to conquer the pop world. Which they did like no other Scandinavian act. Breaking big all over the world in 1989, they would score four US Billboard Hot 100 Number One’s – “The Look”, “Listen To Your Heart”, “It Must Have Been Love”, and “Joyride”.

When Marie Fredriksson sadly lost her long battle to cancer in 2019, the Roxette saga seemed to be over. But the songs were still here, there and everywhere. And so were the fans. A new chapter had to be written. Which it is. And it’s called PG Roxette.

Per Gessle is determined to keep the Roxette legacy alive. Always being the main songwriter and driving force in the band he continues to work both in the studio and on the road. For this project Per has joined forces with long-time Roxette collaborators Clarence Öfwerman, Jonas Isacsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Magnus Börjeson together with the amazing vocalists Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band.

PG Roxette “Nothing Else Matters” header pic is from Spotify.

Update on 17th September 2021: a music video has been published and some more info from Per.

Wanna know how NOTHING ELSE MATTERS came about in the studio? Here’s the story.
I’ve always thought NEM was a beautiful song. It’s got strong melodies, pretty straightforward but smart chord progressions, a lyric you can interpret in many different ways. It’s epic. If I should cover it I would love it to sound like a classic Roxette ballad! Shorten it a bit + create a magnetic intro.
We noticed at the Marie Tribute in Gothenburg 2020 how amazing Dea + Helena sound when they sing together. They sang FADING LIKE A FLOWER at the concert and we were all blown away.
So the basic idea for the vocals on PG Roxette’s take on NEM was to use that particular sound you get when you mix two very different voices and blend them. That’s what we did in the verses and in the outro. Dea + Helena share the duties. The choruses were mine to sing. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to work with three distinctive voices in one song. It certainly appeals to my restless mind!
The programming was done primarily by Magnus + Clarence, then Christoffer came aboard and did some overdubs. His recent baby, an Ondes Martenot from 1928 came in handy. Jonas did his guitar parts in Stockholm and he sounded like he always does; out of this world.
It was an amazing journey from start to finish. Ronny Lahti, who worked many times on Roxette albums in the past, did some extraordinary mixes. He’s another master.
And hey, here’s some footage from the recording sessions filmed by Anders Roos.
Badabam from P.

Per Gessle and Co. on The Metallica Blacklist

As Per Gessle informs, together with Dea Norberg, Helena Josefsson, Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson, Christoffer Lundquist and Jonas Isacsson he is among those 53 artists who are covering their favourite songs from The Black Album of Metallica, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. 12 songs in several interpretations will be released on 7 LPs / 4 CDs under The Metallica Blacklist project. Per & Co. covered the legendary Metallica ballad, Nothing Else Matters.

All profits go to charity. Release date is 10th September 2021.

Pre-save links are available HERE.


Per says:

I’m thrilled to participate in the “Metallica Blacklist” project. Picking a song to record from their classic “Black Album” was pretty easy for me. “Nothing Else Matters” has always been a favourite of mine. Wow, it’s such a great track!

Under the banner ”PG Roxette” I joined forces with long-time Roxers Clarence Öfwerman + Jonas Isacsson + Christoffer Lundquist + Magnus Börjeson together with Helena Josefsson + Dea Norberg, both closely linked to the Roxette touring band of the past.

My ambition was to treat the song with respect while transforming it to a style of my own. I’m very pleased and proud with the outcome.

All proceeds from the recording will go to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and to UNHCR, a charity I chose together with Marie Fredriksson’s family.


Stills are from the official trailer.

Per Gessle’s teddy bear charity concert

Mix Megapol organized a charity event to be broadcast on the radio and their Facebook channel at 19.30 CET, 25th April. Due to the pandemic, the venue couldn’t be filled with listeners, but by donating 100 SEK, a listener helped to place a teddy bear in the audience. And wow, there were tons of bears in the crowd! Per Gessle, Lena Philipsson and Petra Marklund performed at “The Teddy Bear Concert” on Mix Megapol’s Guldscen this evening. The show was recorded yesterday, 24th April.

Lena Philipsson was first with 5 songs and she was followed by Petra Marklund with 4 of her hits. Last but not least, Mr. G appeared on stage together with Helena Josefsson, Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist and Magnus Börjeson and he chose to do an acoustic performance. They played 5 songs (3 PG solos and 2 Roxette hits). Petra Marklund joined them for the last one, Listen To Your Heart. We had a chance to experience Petra singing this song at the tribute event for Marie Fredriksson in January 2020.

It was lovely to hear these 5 songs in an acoustic arrangement again. Per’s vocals sounded very emotional and Helena was singing beautifully as usual. Clarence, Chris and Magnus also added to the intimacy of this little set with their playing.

After the Late Night Concert in December 2020 we all hoped for more acoustic appearances by Per. Even if we hoped for real live events, corona still doesn’t let us enjoy such happenings in real life, but fortunately, we had this opportunity to have Mr. G in our living rooms once again thanks to Mix Megapol.

Per Gessle setlist

  1. På promenad genom stan
  2. It Must Have Been Love
  3. Ömhet
  4. Tycker om när du tar på mej
  5. Listen To Your Heart

After the concert, Per thanked for watching and listening. A private teddy bear was sitting in front of him while performing. Would be nice to know the story of that one. Maybe it’s from Per’s childhood? Who knows. Looked cool anyway. The teddy bear too. Haha.

All donations related to the event fully go to Barncancerfonden (Childhood Cancer Foundation). Collecting donations started on 29th March and the amount reached more than 1.3 million SEK the day before the concert and one could still donate during the event, so in the end the sum was: 1.614.110 SEK! The teddies will be donated as well.

In case you missed the concert, you can watch it HERE!

Stills are from the concert.

PG’s promo video of the event you can watch HERE.

Lena, Petra and Per say thank you in THIS video.

Per Gessle to release Late Night Concert

This year’s surprise of Per Gessle on his birthday is that he releases his unplugged Late Night Concert recorded at Cirkus in Stockholm on 19th November 2020 without an audience, broadcast on TV4 on 16th December 2020. Besides being available digitally from 15th January on YouTube and all streaming sites, it will get a physical release too. Available on CD from 29th January and on vinyl from 12th March.


  1. På promenad genom stan
  2. Tycker om när du tar på mig
  3. Listen To Your Heart
  4. Småstadsprat
  5. Honung och guld
  6. I din hand
  7. Segla på ett moln
  8. It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)
  9. Ömhet

So it includes all 9 songs played, but the order of them is different to the order in which we could see the beautiful performance on TV4.

Listen to the album on digital platforms from Friday and pre-order your physical copies HERE!

Fab news! It’s really worth a release to be able to enjoy this concert anytime we want to!

A very happy birthday to Per!